Gov. DeSantis suspends new vacation rentals amid coronavirus concerns

Vacation Rental House
Local jurisdictions had already implemented prohibitions

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday issued an executive order enacting a statewide ban on vacation rentals.

Local jurisdictions had already implemented prohibitions, but the order means that Airbnb, VRBO, and other short-term rental providers are on ice.

The order notes that “Florida is experiencing an increase in individuals fleeing to Florida from out-of-state locations where ‘shelter-in-place’ orders are being implemented and/or community spread exists.”

From there, the claim is made that “many cases of COVID-19 in Florida have resulted from individuals coming into the State of Florida from international travel and other states, posing great risk to Florida residents.”

Given that “vacation rentals and third-party platforms advertising vacation rentals in Florida present attractive lodging destinations for individuals coming into Florida,” the order suspends most such rentals immediately.

Exempted from the ban: stays slated to begin no later than March 28.

Carveouts are also in place for “persons performing military, emergency, governmental, health or infrastructure response, or travelers engaged in non-vacation commercial activities.”

Those violating the order are subject to criminal sanctions, including potential 2nd degree misdemeanor charges, and potential revocation of vacation rental licenses for flouters.

“DBPR shall supplement this directive with guidance or directives as necessary to implement the order and shall take steps necessary to inspect licensed properties or third-party platforms whereby Florida vacation rentals may be advertised,” the order promises, adding that “DBPR shall alert the state authorities to evidence of violations or attempts to violate this order.”

Vacation rental expert Wendy Shultz, founder of The Simple Life Hospitality, says vacation rentals could have been a solution for those looking to self-isolate because it requires less face-to-face interaction than a hotel.

“How do they quarantine themselves for 14 days if they can’t be with family?” she said. “It almost seems like a vacation rental would be the perfect place for someone to self quarantine.”

Ironically, DeSantis was opposed during the 2020 Legislative Session to state efforts to regulate that sphere.

“My view,” said DeSantis, “is probably that should be determined locally.”

DeSantis issued a second executive order contemporaneous with the vacation rental prohibition, instituting checkpoints on I-10 with an eye toward Louisiana tags.

Earlier this week, the Governor issued another order, requiring travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York to self-isolate for 14 days.

“All we’re trying to do is keep our residents here safe. If you’re coming from one of the epicenters, we probably think that you should follow the directions of your state and local officials, and if they’re telling you to shelter in place, then do that, but don’t come here because we’re trying to protect our folks,” DeSantis said.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


15 comments

  • Jan

    March 28, 2020 at 9:21 am

    “Exempted from the ban: stays slated to begin no later than Friday March 28.”

    Isn’t March 28th today (Saturday)? So, this article should be corrected to Saturday March 28?

  • Booger T

    March 28, 2020 at 10:14 am

    A subsidy for the hotel industry. Nice

  • Brian Sullivan

    March 28, 2020 at 10:25 am

    The hotel and motel lobby strikes again. They continue to work at the local level to regulate vacation rentals out of business and Governor claims its a local issue . Now the Governor again sides with the hotel lobby . I can rent thousands of hotels accross the state of Florida for tonight and thru the next 2 weeks . The Governor could have prohibited rentals to guests originating from hot spots . WE always check a copy of drivers license before we rent and take credit card info with billing address . Can people use false info , yes , but they can do it to a hotel clerk as well. This exemption to the Hotel lobby is not saving Floridians , its hurting an industry

    • Susan Timmers

      April 1, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      It seems targeting short term rentals. Hotel lobby? They have long wanted to stop short term rentals. This is such an obvious stab at short term rentals who are for the most part individual owners providing a getaway for people needing it. Why? How is this justified? If one segment is forbidden then all should be. Is the real goal stopping travel to FL? Please help me understand.

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    March 28, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Floriduh Gov MAGA is on track to soon equal his hero DT as brain dead and dangerous. They fiddle while we burn. I am hoping against hope that all the snowbirds GTF out on schedule soon so at least there won’t be as many idiots wandering around coughing.

    Thanks, G.K., for ferreting out tidbits like this!

  • Susan Johnson

    March 28, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    What about the private vacation rentals? Are they included too?

  • Jim Loftus

    March 29, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Now we know who controls DeSantis: the Florida hotel motel industry.
    Tell me how an individual room is more of a threat than a building with hundreds of rooms, common elevators and lobby areas.
    Yet hotels and motels are exempt from the governor’s executive order.
    This also explains why DeSantis didn’t do anything about spring break beaches: the hotel motel lobby wouldn’t allow it.

  • Barbara Loya

    March 29, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    I live in a quad-plex where 2 places have been turned into Airbnbs. Tonight (March 29). Someone just checked in saying he was here for work…so I assume he is exempt. His girlfriend, who is not here for work, is joining him tomorrow. She is just here to be with her boyfriend. This is just not right under the circumstances as 2 apartments are tenants. We live here and are worried sick with these Airbnbers trutsing in and out, touching railings and door handles. We have no idea where these people have been or what they’ve been exposed to. Fyi, we are being kicked out so our apartments can be turned into Airbnbs. So I stress to people…do not honor any Airbnb that is not a solo apartment/building or in the Airbnb hosts home. Kicling people out of their home to make way for an Airbnb is wrong and boiks fown to,nothing but greed. There is no way I can compete with $150.00 a night!!!! There shoukd be a law against this!!!! But currently, I’m worried about getting sick and this person should not be here at all!!!!!!!!

  • Susan Bates

    March 30, 2020 at 10:04 am

    If you have a rental beginning in late April and are now unable to come because of the ban on out of staters, are you entitled to a refund from the rental agency? Our rental agent told us he would NOT give us a refund.

    • Kelly Booth

      March 31, 2020 at 8:30 am

      We are in the same boat. Our landlord will not return our calls or emails. What are our rights as renters?

  • Gina Cook

    March 30, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    Such BS from one sided Desantis. My Airbnb only holds 3 people and is cleaned and sanitized way more the crowded hotels motels and resorts. Really ??? Resorts!!! Give me a break! Desantis getting paid off by hotel lobbyists. POS!

    • Lisa

      April 2, 2020 at 3:51 pm

      There are two on our block. They are two HUGE villas, 5 bedrooms each. They are crowded with at lest 20 people each, every day of the week!

  • Lisa

    April 2, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    We live in NE Fort Lauderdale and there are two vacation rental houses on our block: 3050 and 3040 NE 43 St., Ft. Lauderdale both up and running business as usual. We have contacted the mayor’s office, the AirbnB manager and no one seems to care!

  • Sfloridagal

    April 3, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Airbnb does NOT care, still allowing rentals despite statewide Shelter-In-Place order. I know two people who just booked an Airbnb for tonight and tomorrow in WPB. One is driving into the state and, because she isn’t from New York or Louisiana, she’s allowed in. This is crazy and frustrating for those of us who have been self-isolating for three weeks!

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